Monday, August 7, 2017

Coaches: Nigeria's G.O.A.T (Vol. 4)

Nigeria senior national team has a remarkable history of numerous managers, several barely lasting a few years at the helm. Sifting through the list of managers and their accomplishments is not especially difficult because Nigeria has won very few championships at the senior level. However, it has to be noted that winning championships, though important, is not the only criterion used in determining the G.O.A.T. among Nigerian coaches. It is important to look at their efficiency scores, particularly in competitive games and games played away from home.

The initial list for G.O.A.T included the following: Shuaibu Amodu, Josef Ember, Otto Gloria, Stephen Keshi, Jorge Penna, Jelisavcic "Father Tiko" Tihomir, and Clemens Westerhoff. Each finalist distinguished himself in one way or the other. Either he was consistently good with the team or won a championship or performed remarkably in a tournament with the team. There are coaches like Eguavoen and Bonfrere who had spectacular runs but they managed the team for a short period and did not win major championships and, thus, were not considered.

It is important to remind you that what is valued in selecting the G.O.A.T. is accomplishment and statistics accumulated by coaching Nigeria's full national team. Thus, performance while coaching other teams is not factored in. For instance, the fact that Otto Gloria took Eusebio and Portugal to the third place at the 1966 World Cup or that he took Benfica to nine Portuguese national trophies are unimportant here. It is not important what Tihomir "Father Tiko" did coaching Australian national team. Neither is it important to calculate Shuaibu Amodu's remarkable performance at the club level in Nigeria where his list of achievements makes him stand head and shoulders above his peers.

The G.O.A.T. Coaches
The top coach selected is Clemens Westerhoff. This is an easy choice and one that is likely close to unanimous among Nigerian football fans. Westerhoff's team efficiency is tied for first with two other coaches and his team's rate of conceding is tied as the stingiest with Amodu's team (see Table 1). However, it must be stated that Westerhoff's team, in spite of its wide acclaim as Nigeria's finest, had the poorest efficiency away from home (see Figure 1). Amodu's teams excelled on all the stats that are produced here but because he did not win the Cup for African Nations (AFCON), we rate Westerhoff as the G.O.A.T. of Nigerian coaches.

For two positions as assistants, I have picked Shuaibu Amodu and Stephen Keshi. Both were  great achievers. Amodu's stats are by far better than others, especially his efficiency away from home. Though he never won the AFCON, he set records like going through World Cup and AFCON qualifiers without losing a point. He currently holds Nigeria's record of most consecutive wins at six. His pedigree is beyond reproach. Keshi fills the next assistant position for G.O.A.T. as his championship winning and World Cup performance is only matched by Westerhoff. Beyond that, he has the second best efficiency score away from home (only Amodu surpasses it). His efficiency in competitive games trails only Amodu and Westerhoff (see Figure 1).

Many would, perhaps, question the non-selection of "Father Tiko" and Otto Gloria. So why were they not selected? "Father Tiko" brought Nigeria to a high consistency level among top African teams when he won third place at the AFCONs of 1976 and 1978. His team is tied first in team efficiency (see Table 1) and scored the second most goals per game (second only to Penna's team). However, he never won a championship with Nigeria and his records pale in comparison to Amodu's who also did not win a championship. Otto Gloria's team won the AFCOn, at home, in 1980 but imploded immediately after rendering his tenure inferior, statistically, to the two coaches selected as G.O.A.T assistant coaches.

In essence, Westerhoff is the choice coach of the G.O.A.T. team with Amodu and Keshi as assistants. In a subsequent blog, I will mention players and/or coaches that are future G.O.A.T and those currently selected who may be displaced in the future.

Starting XI G.O.A.T. Nigerian Players (3-4-3) and Coaches
GK:  Vincent Enyeama

DF:  Uche Okechukwu
DF:  Christian Chukwu
DF:  Stephen Keshi

MF:  Sunday Oliseh
MF:  Mikel Obi
MF:  Muda Lawal
MF:  Augustine Okocha

FW:  Rashidi Yekini
FW:  SegĂșn Odegbami
FW:  Thompson Usiyan

Honorable Mentions

Emmanuel Okala, Yisa Sofoluwe, Taribo West, Haruna Ilerika, Henry Nwosu, Sunday Oyarekhua, and Obafemi Martins.

Clemens Westerhoff

Assistant Coaches
Shuaibu Amodu and Stephen Keshi

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